Posted in Scrum Events

The Sprint

“The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.”(1)


Definition: Sprint is the container event and heart of the Scrum to create potentially releasable product increment (2, page 25)

Length: No more than one month

Outcome: Potentially Releasable Product Increment

People: Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team, Stakeholders

Sprint Purpose

  • A Sprint is like a project with a timeline of no more than a one-month horizon to reach a goal (1)
  • First Sprint requires no more than a Product Owner, a team, and enough ideas to potentially complete a full Sprint (2)

During the Sprint:

  • No changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal;
  • Quality goals do not decrease; and,
  • Scope may be clarified and re-negotiated between the Product Owner and Development Team as more is learned.

Sprint Length

  • Next sprint starts immediately after the end of the previous
  • Sprint length should be kept constant to maintain a steady rhythm of delivery (2)
  • The time box must be respected and not extended to meet a Sprint Goal
    • Gives the development team the ability to inspect and adapt what is really possible within the Sprint length (2)
  • Scrum recommends the Sprint length of one month or less, but does not stop you having longer Sprints (2)
  • Longer Sprints increase complexity, reduces feedback, and getting valuable feedback from stakeholders

Deciding Sprint Length

Factors to consider when determining Sprint Length (2, page 27)

  • The frequency of requirement change from market conditions
  • The uncertainty about the technology
  • The frequency the Scrum Team needs feedback from the customers that they are building the ‘right thing’
  • The duration for which the Scrum Team can stay focused on the goal, the team’s maturity, its product knowledge, and interdependencies with external teams

How Long Should a Sprint be? (3, page 109)

  1. How quickly does the business need to change direction?
  2. How quickly can the DevelopmentTeam create a ‘Done’ Increment?

Sprint Length for Multiple Teams (2, page 55)

  • Scrum does not require all Scrum teams on the same product to have the same Sprint length
  • In practice, if one team has a four week cadence it does not make sense for another to have a three week cadence as there will be long gaps between a fully integrated increment

Sprint Cancellation

  • Only the Product Owner can cancel a Sprint, but can be influenced by other Scrum Team members or Stakeholders
  • This happens if the Sprint goal becomes obsolete
  • Cancelling a Sprint is expensive as everyone must regroup for Sprint Planning again well as being bad for team morale (1)

What happens when a Sprint is cancelled (1)

  • Any completed and “Done” Product Backlog items are reviewed
    • As the work is potentially releasable the Product Owner may decide to release it
  • All incomplete Product Backlog Items are re-estimated and put back on the Product Backlog


  1. The Scrum Guide
  2. Scrum Insights for Practitioners by Hiren Doshi
  3. Mastering Professional Scrum by Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl

Explore Other Scrum Artifacts

 Product BacklogIncrement 

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